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SMC seeks input regarding pool project

By Staff | Aug 26, 2011

The Shepherdstown Men’s Club is looking to bring more to Morgan’s Grove Park, the entity in which the group leases from the county, and members is seeking for community input.

With a potential donor awaiting to hear projected costs, the SMC is considering the addition of a community pool, according to Mike Austin, SMC president. Another initiative Austin would like to see to fruition is the installation of a band shell and dance floor for various events held at the park.

Austin said that as far as the community pool goes, the club must first accurately gauge the town’s interest in such a project. “The buy-in for the community is critical for the whole process,” he said.

Austin said he wants to begin a dialogue with interested and concerned parties, launch discussions and then hold forums on the subject. But, he said, it is difficult to really get a “meaningful” sampling of how the community feels.

Dan Anderson, who is working with the currently anonymous donor, said when he was approached by this close family friend about the lack of a pool in the community, he began looking for the best place to locate such a facility.

“The best place for a potential (pool) was Morgan’s Grove Park,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that he has met with local engineering firm Gordon Associates about determining the scope of the project to estimate preliminary costs. Once those are approximated, the donor will make her contribution.

“There is sufficient initial funds to get the project off the ground,” Anderson said.

Austin said that said ideally this project would be a collaboration between the club, local community members and local, county and state governments.

“Where the money comes from is very political,” he said. “We need to rise above the background noise.”

He said while the club won’t say no to monetary donations from other community members for the potential facility, he wants there to be as much buy-in for them as possible for the pool’s future.

“I think it will be a much more sustainable thing if we have contributions of various kinds,” Austin said.

As far as the club’s partnership with Jefferson County Parks and Recreation, the club’s lease with the park expires in February of 2013, Austin said. He said the club is currently exploring options to continue leasing the park.

Austin said should a pool be put into place at the park, he hopes to work it into the lease that the county would manage and maintain the facility, which would put any liability on the county. Austin said right now liability issues rests on the SMC.

Austin also said that after talking with pool managers in Charles Town and Berkeley County, they assured him that it will be a success; however, Austin added that he will also want to sit down with these individuals to discuss construction, maintenance and other issues that come with opening a pool.

As far as the band shell goes, Austin said with annual events like Earth Day and the Labor Day picnic which feature bands, the structure seems like a natural choice.

Anderson, who also serves as the vice president for Shepherd University’s Friends of Music, said having such a structure could allow FOM to expand its offerings and allow concerts outdoors.

“The Friends of Music would be very interested in supporting the initiative,” Anderson said.

But, with ideas for such large facilities being tossed around, Austin stresses receiving feedback as well as preserving the park’s beauty and historical significance.

“We’d like to do this in a way that allows for the least amount of disruption to park land,” he said.

Austin said individuals wishing to express their thoughts are welcome to visit the men’s club webpage at www.smc25443.org or can email info@smc25443.org.

“I don’t see the men’s club meeting as the final decision point,” Austin said.